Lower Level, Lower Pay, Lower Self-Esteem – Can We Fix It? Yes, We Can!

Sections of this topic
    job search
    “We bring you back as soon as we can, but we don’t know when exactly.”

    In this economy it is easy for any one of us to experience the title of this blog. Of course, we say at the beginning of it all, “I need a job, I can do anything for a while” and “who knows I might even get promoted right back up the ladder.” We want to put on the happy face and feel successful. With no job, even someone working for minimum wage has more prestige than we do, and higher self-esteem, too, but we try not to think of that too much at the time.

    How did it happen? “I had a great job, at a great company, with a great salary, but…” First hired, first to go. Simple cutbacks. “We bring you back as soon as we can, but we don’t know when exactly.” So, the dialogue goes on. Being laid off is being laid off. We’re not even talking fired here, although I’m sure some people are so worried about their jobs they up and quit before they are laid off. I’m not sure that’s a good move either.

    So, what can human resources and training do about it? It’s easy to say it’s up to the company that let you go. Is it too much to ask? Maybe. Perhaps, it is the hiring company that feels blessed with the quality of candidates and well-qualified employees who can increase productivity. Those who made $100,000 a year at Company A are now making the mid $30s at Company B, and for awhile everything is great.

    Picture the employee for the first month or two. He or she is very grateful to have a job (any job), and very anxious to prove his or her worth. Certainly what was worth $100k will perform better at a job that generally employs someone expecting to make $35k. No insult intended, but the higher paid individual was probably more focused, more driven and had a stronger work ethic that made her or him worth the extra (assuming the jobs are nearly the same) to Company A. And, even if the jobs are unequal, the person’s skill set is probably still superior to someone who sat in that position previously, allowing the new employee’s boss to recognize talent and opportunity for new responsibilities.

    Lower pay, lower level plus stress, but Überemployee is holding on.

    By the third month, the new employee is no longer new, but is perceived by other employees to be the boss’ pet assistant, being groomed for better things (read that higher position, higher salary). Guess who else thinks that? The employee. Guess who still thinks he or she is so lucky? The boss. Then, the conflicts with the other employees begin as they start to worry about their jobs.

    The “new” person, who is really no longer new, is making them look like they can’t do their jobs properly, and so they make life difficult for the Überemployee. Lower pay, lower level plus stress, but Überemployee is holding on. Stop! We all know where this is going. Right? The more stress we add. Financial difficulties because of the lower salary. Indignity felt due to the lower level position. Self-identity in ruins. Happy and grateful become angry and resentful.

    I wrote an article not too long ago, Perspective of Demoting Yourself Depends on Being True to Yourself, which was the opposite of this one in that demoting yourself from a supervisory job would make sense if not being a supervisor made you happier, despite making less money. In this case, it’s easy to see that when the reduction is not of your own doing, the consequences are much worse than the “risk-taking” I point out in the article above.

    In the words of the famous Bob, the Builder, “Can we fix? Yes, we can.” However, for this Überemployee, the damage is done. There is a future to think about. Human resources needs to think about this one as well as anyone who might find themselves in this predicament. No one is safe or immune. Our defense mechanisms that help us remain sane prevent us from seeing the reality before us. Bosses need to be aware of the consequences of giving the talented newcomer extra work and responsibilities when they are not able to reward them; however, knowing the situation should also be the job of the incoming employee and HR to make sure the information is understood. It’s hard to see the stress of not having a job when you have one, and everything else that goes with it.

    This commentary is my opinion alone and The Free Management Library is not in anyway responsible for its content. I have written several articles of a similar nature. I tend to look at training, the workforce, business management, leadership and communication from a slightly different perspective than you might expect. I published an e-book called The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development in which I explain my reasons for looking at training and development in a different way. I look at it from the outside looking in, from the worker side, from the management side, from the trainer’s, and sometimes from the psychological side. I encourage others to talk about what they think about certain aspects of training on this website as long as they keep it generic. We’ll link to their site, and I hope you will comment here.

    Take a peek at my site and you’ll find out more. By the way, I have an e-novel, Harry’s Reality, published by Amazon. It’s a scary look at what the future could be like if we stopped talking to one another and let the devices take over.

    For more resources about training, see the Training library.